88-Keys is a versatile producer who has worked with a diverse selection of artists ranging from Black Star to Beanie Sigel to Musiq Soulchild. Adam’s Case Files is a mixtape intended as a prelude to The Death of Adam, his upcoming concept album about relationships. The songs explore the ups and downs of relationships from a man’s point of view. Keys narrates the mixtape and explains what happened to his friend Adam before his untimely passing. The tape sounds cohesive, as the songs are connected by the dusty, sped-up samples that start each track. Rappers featured on Files include Guilty Simpson, Mr. Bentley, Izza Kizza, Serius Jones, the group Tanya Morgan & 88-Keys himself.
The beats are appealingly soulful, often built on stuttered samples chopped 9th Wonder style.
A few of the emcees work well with Keys’ sound and effectively play off the themes that the tape is structured around. These pairings result in the best tracks. On “Cuddle Bums,” the three emcees in Tanya Morgan kick verses about their girls, accompanied by gentle keys and a warm guitar loop. Simpson’s gravely venting of his girl problems on “Just LIKE A Man” is another highlight. On the entertaining “Wasting My Minutes,” Kid Cudi rap-sings about an airhead girlfriend over 88-Keys’ bouncy keyboards and claps.
Unfortunately for the most part, the quality beats are wasted on the lacklustre raps kicked by the guests. Hopefully The Death Of Adam will fare better with features from Redman, Kanye West, Bilal and Phonte of Little Brother, among others. -Aaron Matthews
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